The Big Picture: The Simpsons Is Still Funny - Pt. 1

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The Simpsons Is Still Funny - Pt. 1

The Simpsons isn't bad, you just grew up.

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I didn't really start watching the Simpsons until maybe 6 or 7 years ago and so its always seemed "pretty good" to me. It meanders a lot and sometimes episodes which have some decent jokes are just a mess when it comes to a plot. But there always seem to be a few good ones that pop up. Most recently I really really like the Gaiman episode.

"and I dont even know how to read!"

Is he gunna say it was The movie?
Cause that was when it started going downhill for me. It was the jokes weren't that funny and the stories weren't as interesting. The biggest dud I can think of was the "Mypods and Boomsticks" episode: the whole set-up would have been weak even back when post 9/11 paranoia WAS relevant.

But... I did like the Christmas episode this year.

I still watch The Simpsons every week and I do freely admit that it's not as good as it used to be (it is damn clever at least once an episode though). However, my stance there is that NOTHING could be as good as The Simpsons used to be. In its prime, The Simpsons is pure brilliance.

That being said, I've found that newer episodes tend to age fairly well. I basically watch a couple of reruns a day and episodes that maybe didn't seem great at the time usually are pretty solid when re-watched.

I never really got into the simpsons. My mom was against the show and I spent most my time on cartoon network nick and disney which in my state are right beside each other with fox being several channels away. I never really got into it and it seems to me that the show just kinda exists for it's own sake. Which as an artist I don't consider that to be a good thing.

I started watching the Simpsons when I was 13 as the BBC got a hold of it a long time after it started (1997) and so while I wait to next week to do any real critisism, I'd say it dropped in quality because they ran out of ideas combined with trying to copy South Park's more random elements.

no matter who we are we can all agree.

the first couple of episodes were pretty awful

I was in my 20s when I started watching it, so there's no childhood nostalgia factor for me.

I think of the Simpsons the way I do some of the less interesting Discworld novels. The characters are almost too well established, with set comedic routines that they pretty much have to do or it won't feel like them, only we've seen and heard it too often before and familiarity breeds contempt...

So the characters become too predictable, while by contrast the plots become ever more contrived and outlandish. In general the Simpsons used to have some grounding in reality, but by the time I lost interest there really wasn't much to differentiate between the off-the-wall weirdness of say the Halloween episodes and the off-the-wall weirdness of the regular show.

Considering I still think of the Simpsons as "that animated bit on the Tracey Ullman Show that my parents thought was so funny", I acknowledge that I don't get it, but I appreciate how many people do. I hope it survives as long as it has good writing.

Bob, where are you fortunate enough to live that the Christmas season only lasts one month? Around here it starts in the stores in early September.

Props for the Christmas Vacation shout-out, though. Best Christmas movie ever.

The Simpsons stopped being funny when the characters started to get saturated in their own stereotypical behaviour. This started happening roughly after season 4. Characters were no longer surprising you with their behaviour, but were simply going through the motions.

South Park sorta has the same problem, only there it started after season 10.

I got into the show in the early 90s when I was in High school,a nd loved it while in University, along with many classmates. SInce the Movie was released it wasn't so much a case of "The show sucks", it was just, there had been so much of it so I got into the habit of just doing other things and not caring.
With a new show every sunday, syndicated episodes more than 4 or 5 times a day during its peak (Sure I didn't HAVE to watch them all, but there'd be little else on worth watching, and often I'd just run into them while flipping, or while waiting for the next show to start since they were often in the "Just before primetime" Slot), like Seinfeld, even the episodes you had enjoyed before you just couldn't bear to watch.
Also, as someone else once pointed out, the show seemed to really focus on Homer every week, to the point where his "zany" hijinks became the focus and the other cast (aside from the occasional focus) just seemed to be background for him.

Yeah not as big a fan of the early seasons so much (Although I maintain, you look at any successful long running show, the early episodes look far different than what the show becomes known for).

All time favorite was episodes were the one with Hank Scorpio, the one with Sideshow Bob's Brother Cecil, although just about any Sideshow Bob episode was gold, Bart's webcomic Angry dad (WIth Stan Lee Cameo..best line ever "I think stan Lee's Mind is no longer in MINT condition" and when Stan is trying to change into the Hulk "Oh please youcouldn't even turn into Bill Bixby"), Krusty stops selling out (Only to sell out to the greatest Simpsons commercial jingle, the CANYONERO), Bart the Boyscout (Junior Camper) and the early one where Bart gets a Big Brother and Homer ends up fighting him.

I do get the "nostalgia", or looking back with rose tinted glasses. Ninja Turtles, Transformers, GI Joe, all cartoons I loved as a kid, and thought were the best, until I watched them as an adult and all I could think was "Was I really THAT stupid that I thought THIS was good?"

I was never into the "Ay caramba" or "Eat my shorts" thing. If anything, I always considered Bart to be the less interesting character in the family (with the exception of Maggie, who has very little to work with).

I understand where Movie Bob is trying to get, but I don't think the show got better. I enjoyed some of the earlier episodes more because I enjoyed the family and recurrent characters dynamic, and I found the earlier seasons to be generally better written. Now, it seems like the characters have been reduced to one or two characteristics and nothing less: Bart is a bad boy, Lisa is a smart but smug girl, Homer is basically a stooge, Flanders is naive and a religious zealot, Smithers is gay, etc.

That, and how episodes were written to accommodate guest start cameos, with no apparent reason that because they can, was what make me believe The Simpsons has more than exhaust their welcome. I have seen previous seasons, and still enjoy them beyond the nostalgia factor. If anything, growing up made me appreciate the better episodes, and I don't think its a coincidence few of those are recent.

Yeah, I'll be honest, I was NEVER that crazy about The Simpsons.

I don't hate it. I don't even actively dislike it. And I "get," sort of, why it was such a big pop-cultural phenomenon. But by the time I came along, the formulas it established had already been re-tread so many times... and the problem with being a classical-theater vet is, I don't really care who did it FIRST. So, it's just not my thing.

There was a definite shift between Seasons 2 and 3 that the creators will be the first to point out. The animation and voice-acting got better, the writing got a lot better, and the focus started moving from Bart to Homer.

My friends and I watched The Simpsons fairly religiously right up to the end of Season 10, and I spent a lot of my university years trading Simpsons quotes with people (it's still a great icebreaker at parties). I found that season was pretty hit-and-miss for me overall--although the season finale, "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo", was absolutely brilliant. I only watched it sporadically after that, along with TV in general, as I was wrapping up my undergraduate degree and moving on to grad school.

I'll catch occasional episode here and there, and they seem okay. The show used to be fairly unique in its niche, and now shares it with South Park and the Family Guy-verse, and all three are becoming tired. So it's hard to find any of them good anymore. Especially when the type of humour they pioneered is now all over Adult Swim and YouTube.

PS: The 11th season episode "The Bart Wants What It Wants" was extremely hyped in the Canadian media because the Simpsons visit Toronto at the end of the episode. It ended up being a huge disappointment because the media spoiled almost every joke, most of which were old, tired jokes to begin with. If I had a firm break with the Simpsons, that was probably it.

I know this probably only fuels what you were saying, but I still think season 8 was the best season. I just finished watching the season 14 DVD, and I still love the show. I just think Season 8 had a lot of the best episodes

Mr. Sparkle, the X-Files, Poochie, Hank Scorpio, Frank Grimes, A great Sideshow Bob episode, I could go on. Season 8 was amazing.

But yeah, I still love the show. I grew up alongside it.

The Simpsons are huge for Fox and american tv. Yet to survive 20 plus years is hard as the taste of the audience shifts towards something different every generation. I love The Simpsons, yet the show became soo huge that now the parody is on themselves and not in what they used to anymore.

PS: who shot Mr.Burn anyone? See it on wikipedia.

Love the Simpsons, love this episode.

Still dosen't explain why "That 90's Show" is the biggest spit in the face for longtime viewers. I HATE that episode, same with "Kill the Gator and Run" and "Sattlesore Galactica".

I think we can all agree though, "Marge vs the Monorail" is one of, if not THE best episodes of the series.

hermes200:
I was never into the "Ay caramba" or "Eat my shorts" thing. If anything, I always considered Bart to be the less interesting character in the family (with the exception of Maggie, who has very little to work with).

I understand where Movie Bob is trying to get, but I don't think the show got better. I enjoyed some of the earlier episodes more because I enjoyed the family and recurrent characters dynamic, and I found the earlier seasons to be generally better written. Now, it seems like the characters have been reduced to one or two characteristics and nothing less: Bart is a bad boy, Lisa is a smart but smug girl, Homer is basically a stooge, Flanders is naive and a religious zealot, Smithers is gay, etc.

That, and how episodes were written to accommodate guest start cameos, with no apparent reason that because they can, was what make me believe The Simpsons has more than exhaust their welcome. I have seen previous seasons, and still enjoy them beyond the nostalgia factor. If anything, growing up made me appreciate the better episodes, and I don't think its a coincidence few of those are recent.

Pretty much all of this. The point I realised it was getting tired with the cameos is when I remember Steve Buscemi being in it. His cameo, from what I can remember, is him walking up to Homer in a dream/fantasy sequence, and saying, Hi Homer, I'm Steve Buscemi" and then saying one other line and that was it. There didn't seem to be any enthusiasm for the episodes any more. No more classics like Mr. Plow or Itchy and Scratchy Land. Just kind of done for the sake of being done, with jokes about Moleman being gay and some convoluted excuse to get Homer to scream in pain for a minute because of his stupid actions. Maybe I'm just old and cynical though.

This took way to long to hit the front page...

The last new episode I saw hat at least two instances of bloodshed, one of which seemed ridiculous (someone just got hit in the nose by a ball, and ended up bleeding, like, a gallon of blood!). I was sitting there wondering "When did the Simpsons get to violent"? Then I thought to myself, each Simpsons season seems to represent the generation it was made... So what do the newer episodes say about this generation?

Yeah, you've made this argument before with Akira, and it doesn't hold up in either case. The tenure of when I watched The Simpsons was from when I was about 13 to when I was about 16, and I didn't exactly "grow up" in that time period. I came in around Season 7 or 8, and watched the reruns obsessively along with the new episodes. But after a couple years I started to notice that it just wasnt funny anymore. I can still go back and watch older seasons and they're still funny, but I might get maybe one chuckle per episode after a certain point.

i hate it when people stop in the middle of their story ;). lol

RaikuFA:
Love the Simpsons, love this episode.

Still dosen't explain why "That 90's Show" is the biggest spit in the face for longtime viewers. I HATE that episode, same with "Kill the Gator and Run" and "Sattlesore Galactica".

I think we can all agree though, "Marge vs the Monorail" is one of, if not THE best episodes of the series.

I'm pretty sure the hatred for "That 90's Show" comes from how they retcon the story of how Marge and Homer got married and began their family.

And I agree with Bob's assessment of the series as having it's ups and downs but generally staying above average, with a few excellent episodes every season, along with a couple of duds.

Heh, "promising, but primitively executed" = still from Transformers: the Movie. Very good, Bob.

Ha! It's so true (to me) about the show suck when I stop watching it when I went to University. Ok granted I did thought it started to suck a year before I went.
I'm getting the feeling that the part where it started to suck is when they got alot of money.

I don't think the perceived decline in quality is down to what you said Bob, I watched the Simpsons from around 2002 to 2008 on UK television (first BBC2, then C4) meaning that I got a mixture of episodes from older and newer seasons... and the older ones, excluding a few of the oldest, were definitely superior. The newer episodes have turned the characters into in-jokes of themselves, the "Smithers is gay" jokes are the worst, it didn't used to be funny because he was into men, it was funny because he was such a lackey that he was solely into his own completely unattractive evil boss.

Never really got the whole "Simpsons now are ****" thing"
Sure, they are not as good as their golden seasons do to shear age of being over 20 seasons old,
but they are still pretty good & I always make an effort to catch the holiday special eps (especially halloween)
There still great when compared to true *****, like the current Family Guy
Now there is a series that has turned to *****

The show lasted too long to be funny for me anymore. That's it. There is no "last good one." The show's funniness fluctuated throughout it's life. The old shows weren't that great, then it started getting really good, then it became a little drawn out, then there were fresh ideas, and then eventually I was finished watching the series. I overheard that they're still making new episodes so I might tune in if I feel like it. (Most likely not.)

I still quite enjoy the Simpsons. I think the thing that Bob hasn't touched, but probably will in his next episode is that it doesn't work for some of the younger crowd because of how it's not so Edgy with its humor. That doesn't mean it isn't, but Family Guy kind of pandered to me when I was a kid and it was on Tv (I was about 11 or so when it first premiered), and for awhile, it was funny, but then I had slowly got used to the formula and find Family Guy to be rather disappointing with its idea of humor to the Simpsons, where when I watch that show with my family (My folks are almost in their 60s, and they loved the show enough that I could watch it at four or five), I don't have to feel embarrassed because one shows idea of funny is actual jokes then using the word "Vagina" as a punchline, which it isn't.

I think that is a factor into why Simpsons is considered on a downhill slope, because the writers aren't willing to degrade themselves into simple jokes and cheap backhanded slams when a nice twist of a certain word and you have a joke that may not work, but at least feels like a concerted effort.

My sisters (12) prefer the new episodes the old ones. I guess this is evidence supporting you.

And I have to admit, looking over their shoulder, there were a lot of good episodes in what they were watching. I don't even feel I like it less, just the general excitement generated by entertainment in my life has reduced as I begin to realise it might not be the most fulfilling thing ever.

It's the same thing as why Final Fantasy X is always going to be my unbeatable mecca of gaming. You can never quite recapture the joy of first discovering a game where you kept saying 'just one more savepoint'

I liked the first season but I didn't really really like till a bit later when they got the chars down a bit better, but then around 2000 or 2001 it just got to the point where I just couldn't watch it, I mean I could watch the old ones and did but the new ones just blegh, they just kind of sucked for me, oddly enough now they seem to be getting better again.

I do really like the Simpsons, however to me this is the problem, after all it was named after one of the characters

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Flanderization

i still love the Simpson's! i remember watching them back in the day when i was younger. my next door neighbor was a big Simpson's fan so occasionally when we would hang out some times all we would do was watch the Simpson's and we had some laughs when we played the games on his awesome sega (was a Nintendo kid myself) i stopped watching it for awhile (I cant really remember what season i really stopped on) because i would usually miss it when it first came on so i had to catch the reruns on the WB channel (now CW here) but eventually it just got to where i had literally seen every episode and wasn't getting new ones. so i stopped watching for awhile so i could let them make new ones (sort of like going into stasis for a while) and then once i checked to see if they had new ones i immediately began watching again.

DVS BSTrD:
Is he gunna say it was The movie?

Or perhaps Futurama.

I can't pin the point the Simpson's lost it for me, but I can say why: over exposure. The show isn't reay any better or worse, but after a while the plots are reused, and the jokes are foreseeable. I still make a habit of watching every new episode, but even the Treehous of Horror didn't do it for me this year.

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